The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in the news an awful lot over the last couple of months.
From the infamous Antonio Brown sideline tantrum and subsequent stadium walkout during a game, to quarterback Tom Brady retiring for all of 44 days, only to return for Year 23 in the NFL at age 45.
Now head coach Bruce Arians, who directed the team to a Super Bowl 55 win, is retiring from coaching. Arians isn’t leaving the organization, as he’s set to assume a front office role with the team.
Replacing him as head coach is defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a seasoned coach of African-American descent.
Arians talked about having succession plans in place after his announcement.
“Succession has always been huge for me. With the organization in probably the best shape it’s been in it’s history, with Tom Brady coming back … I’d rather see Todd in position to be successful and not have to take some crappy job. I’m probably retiring next year anyway, in February. So, I control the narrative right now. I don’t control it next February, because if Brady gets hurt, we go 10-7, and it’s an open interview for the job … I got 31 coaches and their families that depend on me. My wife is big on not letting them families down.”
Since Arians’ arrival, Tampa Bay has made great efforts to diversify the organization and has led the NFL in granting opportunities to minority candidates.
According to the L.A. Times, “Building a diverse coaching staff, including women, has been a hallmark of his career. Last season’s Buccaneers were the first to have two female full-time coaches on staff and the first team with Black coaches at all three coordinator spots — and four if you count assistant head coach/run game coordinator Harold Goodwin.”
— NFL (@NFL) June 28, 2020
Todd Bowles Gets Another Shot: Becomes Third Black Coach In The NFL
With the surprising move, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles gets another shot at leading a franchise. Bowles was the head coach of the dysfunctional New York Jets for four seasons (2015-18), posting an unimpressive (24-40) record.
But with all the hurdles new head coaches encounter when trying to build a winning team with minimal resources, Bowles’ past failures, in many respects, aren’t all that shocking.
Bowles is a man of high character and integrity; he’s also recognized as one of the brightest defensive minds in the league. He was deserving of another shot to lead a franchise, and that opportunity wasn’t going to come via the coaching carousel. In fact, he and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich interviewed for multiple jobs this offseason, to no avail.
Bowles designed a defensive scheme which held the dynamic Kansas City Chiefs to just three field goals in a 31-9 drubbing in Super Bowl 54. Bowles joins Mike Tomlin (Steelers) and Lovie Smith (Texans) as the only Black coaches in the league, roughly 11 percent.
Arians Almost Retired After The Super Bowl Win: Bowles Was The Choice To Succeed Him For a While
“BA,” as he’s affectionately known, thought about going out on top after the triumphant Super Bowl victory. But then he thought about who the Bucs would replace him with and how they would go about that process of selecting a new leader. He always wanted it to be one of his assistants, mainly Bowles.
“It hit me after the Super Bowl. I thought really hard about going out on top. Then it was like, nah, let’s go for two. The 2021 season was a grind with all the injuries but still winning and getting to where we got. Immediately after, two to three weeks afterwards I thought, if I quit my coaches get fired. I couldn’t do it then.
“Tom was kind of the key. When Tom decided to come back … and all of these guys back now, it’s the perfect timing for me just to go into the front office and still have the relationships that I love.”
Arians has long been credited for having the most diverse staff in the NFL. He’s never been shy about his blatant attempt to offset systemic racism by cultivating and developing Black coaching leaders. Winning a Super Bowl with an all-black coordinator group was historical and definitely a watershed moment for the NFL. Arians always talked about making sure his coaches are taken care of.
I’m really happy for Bruce Arians and his staff. He is a true ally. Bucs are the only team in the NFL with all of the major coordinators being Black. OC Byron Leftwich, DC Todd Bowles, Special Teams Co. Keith Armstrong and Assistant Head/Run Game Co. Harold Goodwin pic.twitter.com/M6IcKVuWRD
— D'Ante Smith (@dsmithreport) January 24, 2021
The move to promote also Bowles keeps team continuity. With Leftwich running the offense and Brady back under center, Tampa’s Super Bowl window is open and highly plausible. And with Russell Wilson going to Denver, Davante Adams going to the Raiders and Dallas trading Amari Cooper, outside of the Rams, Tampa Bay should be an early favorite to represent the NFC on another Super Sunday.
Bowles has paid his dues, and because of Arians’ ability to manipulate the system in good faith, he will finally get to command a team with a real shot at making a title run.